DBQ QUESTION
     Based on these documents and your knowledge of the time period between 1775 and 1825, analyze the social, political, and economic constraints placed upon women that reinforced the Cult of Domesticity.



Document A
     Even in countries where they may be esteemed the most happy [women are] constrained in their desires in the disposal of their goods, robbed of freedom and will by the laws, the slaves of opinion, which rules them with absolute sway and construes the slightest appearances into guilt; surrounded on all sides by judges who are at once tyrants and their seducers.

Thomas Paine, 1775



Document B
     I cannot say that I think you are very generous to the ladies; for, whilst you are proclaiming peace and good-will to men, emancipating all nations, you insist upon retaining an absolute power over wives. But you must remember that arbitrary power is like most other things which are very hard, very liable to be broken; and, notwithstanding all your wise laws and maxims, we have it in our power, not only to free ourselves, but to subdue our masters, and without violence, throw both your natural and legal authority at our feet.

Abigail Adams, 1776



Document C
     ... few New York ladies know how to entertain company in their own houses unless they introduce the card tables except this family... I don't know a woman or a girl that can chat above half an hour, and that on the form of a cap, the colour of ribbon or the set of a hoop-stay jupon. I will do our ladies the justice to say that they have more cleverness in the turn of an eye than the New York girls have in their whole composition.
     ...you enter a room with a formal set curtsey and after the how do's, 't is a fine, or a bad day, and those trifling nothings are finish'd, all's a dead calm 'till the cards are introduced, when you see pleasure dancing in the eyes of all the matrons and they seem to gain new life. The misses...decline playing for the pleasure of making love--for to all appearance 'tis the ladies and not the gentlemen, that shew a preference nowadays....I cannot help shewing my surprise when I see a lady single out her pet to lean almost in his arms at an Assembly or playhouse...or to hear a lady confess partially for a man who, perhaps, she has seen three times...

Rebecca Franks, N.Y. 1781



Document D
     I object to the word "obey" in the marriage service because it is a general word, without limitations or definition....The obedience between man and wife, I conceive, is, or ought to be mutual. Marriage ought never to be considered as a contract between a superior and an inferior, but a reciprocal union of interest, an implied partnership of interests, where all differences are accommodated by conference.

Ladies Magazine, 1782



Document E

Midwifery manual, 1793


Document F
     Our high and mighty Lords (thanks to their arbitrary constitutions have denied us the means of knowledge, and then reproached us for the want of it. Being the stronger party, they early seized the sceptre and the sword; with these they gave laws to society; they denied women the advantage of a liberal education; forbid them to exercise their talents on those great occasions, which would serve to improve them.... Happily, a more liberal way of things begins to prevail. The sources of knowledge are gradually opening to our sex.... But supposing now that we posses'd all the talents of the orator, in the highest perfection; where shall we find a theatre for the display of them? Man; despotic man, first made us incapable of the duty, and then forbid us the exercise. Let us by suitable education, qualify ourselves for those high departments--they will open before us.


Priscilla Mason's salutary address to the Young Ladies' Academy, 1793



Document G

Two Spheres of Life

A satirical print from 1800



Document H
     With pleasure I sit down to the best of my parents to inform them of my situation, .... When I first came here I gave myself up to reflection, but not pleasing
reflections. When Mr. Boyd [her brother-in-law] left me I burst into tears and instead of trying to calm my feelings, I tried to feel worse. I begin to feel happier and will soon gather up all my philosophy and think of the duty that now attends me, to think that here I will drink freely from the fountain of knowledge, but I will not dwell any longer on this subject. I am not doing anything but writing, reading, and cyphering. There is a French master coming next Monday and he will teach French and Dancing. William Boyd and Mr. Wyman advise me to learn French... Mr. Wyman says I must learn Geometry before Geography, and that I better not begin till I have got through my cyphering.
     We get up early in the morning and make our beds and sweep our chamber, and a little better finished. There's 4 beds in the chamber, and two person's in each bed, we have chocolate for dinner and for supper.

Student, Eliza Southgate's letter to her mother, 1797



Document I
     It is women's appropriate duty and particular privilege to...implant in the juvenile breast the first seed if virtue, the love of God, and their country, with all the other virtues that shall prepare them to shine as statesmen, soldiers, philosophers and Christians.

Hannah Mather Crocker, 1818



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